Video games are now tackling tough social issues that extend to exploring the intimacy of human relationships. Of course, what has facilitated these deeper and more mature themes cannot merely be explained by one single factor. There is little doubt that video gaming is reaching a larger and more varied audience, and that’s a huge reason why we’re seeing the fruits of more accomplished narrative and cinematic direction. Game developers want to experiment with the inclusion of adult themes and the demand for these subjects has resulted in a push to include more graphic and emotionally resonant sex scenes.
This imperative, however, is not entirely new; sex in video games has existed for the best part of a decade. But, the key difference is that lower fidelity visuals, especially before technology such as facial motion capture existed, could generally only facilitate the use of sexual scenes in a comedic way. Grand Theft Auto, for example, was renowned for raunchy sex scenes as far back as San Andreas, portraying sex in an entirely whimsical and silly fashion. And while these scenes well suit GTA’s satirical, tongue in cheek writing, the technology never really allowed delivery of anything more than mere amusement.
What we’re seeing today, however, is that the sharper and more realistic aesthetic of current gen hardware has resulted in sex scenes with the capability to actually stimulate us, as well as invoke feelings of heartfelt emotion and love. Take CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, for example, a game that is, in many ways, the gaming equivalent to televisions immensely popular fantasy series Game Of Thrones, a show well known for its graphic sex scenes.
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Arguably, video games have long been able to match the shock factor of violence, brutality and action seen in film and television. They have, however, largely had to shy away from the inclusion of sexuality and passion, mostly because it just hasn’t been possible to accurately represent it in a manner that produces appropriate emotional responses for players. Not so in The Witcher 3, where steamy sex scenes are impassioned enough to have us hot under the collar in one instance, and charged with emotion and excitement in another.
The same can be said, too, of games such as Heavy Rain, where sexual scenes are a central catalyst for the game’s narrative arc and their accurate depiction is imperative. The manner with which the game is able to use sex as part of a protagonist’s character development is hugely commendable. Indeed, the fact that the experience often becomes even more immersive during these scenes is perhaps confirmation that developers are finally unlocking this previously unobtainable level of realism.
Sex, then, is perhaps the final piece of the puzzle in regards to the creation of a believable digital representation of human nature. Its representation in video games has certainly come along way, and although the future promises of ultra photo-realistic computer graphics, and the standards of acting and direction in video games continues to edge closer to TV and cinema, the ability for contemporary video games to portray sex in a way that actually stimulates us is something that should be praised.
It serves as a testament to how far the industry has evolved in the past decade, and provides a fascinating insight into the potential of video gaming in the future. The fact that games are now able to invoke primal human emotions certainly demonstrates the extent to which video gaming is able to blur the lines between reality and fantasy. As VR experiences loom on the horizon, promising an even greater ability to immerse us in virtual environments, the seemingly boundless capabilities of the medium continue to exceed our expectations from even as recently as the turn of the century.